The U.N. report into the 2014 Gaza conflict that killed thousands of Palestinians can be a useful starting point for the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes, the report's co-author has said. "I do not think it is evidence but it could be considered relevant to an investigator from the ICC if they get to that stage," Mary McGowan Davis, chairwoman of the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, told the Anadolu Agency via a phone interview Tuesday. "At the moment, the ICC is conducting what they call a preliminary examination. If they do start an investigation on merits, our report is out there, it is publicly available and it might be a useful starting point for an investigator," she added.
After formally joining the ICC in April, Palestinian authorities submitted documents to the international court based at The Hague on June 25, accusing Israel of committing war crimes on Palestinian civilians and building illegal settlements on Palestinian territory.
The move came days after the long-awaited U.N. report on June 22, which pointed out human rights abuses and possible war crimes committed both by Israel and Palestinian armed groups during the conflict last July. The report drew reactions from both sides with Israel denouncing it as "biased" and "politically motivated" and with Palestinian resistance faction Hamas welcoming the condemnation of Israel. "[The Israeli government response] is nothing particularly surprising, I wonder if they have actually read the report, but we think it [our report] is pretty even-handed and shows no evidence of bias," Davis said. "Hamas likes some of the narrative comments but does not like any narratives on its own activities, that is very predictable too," she added. "Comparing the casualties is not relevant criteria by which to judge the report, we were operating on a very strict mandate and the commission was looking at how parties wage conflicts. The parties are treated absolutely the same... That is where the equivalence comes and that is the law," she said.
The United Nations' human rights body is scheduled to vote on a resolution on the Gaza report either Thursday or Friday this week.
According to the U.N.'s official website, apart from being the member of the U.N. inquiry commission, Davis served as Supreme Court Justice of the State of New York and as a federal prosecutor during her 24-year career in the criminal justice sector. The independent UN inquiry report released on June 22 had pointed out the impunity with which Israeli forces committed gave human rights violations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank during its offensive in 2014. The report noted that there was a huge increase in firepower during the conflict in 2014, with over 6,000 airstrikes carried out by the Israeli army and about 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired; Palestinian armed groups also reportedly fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel between July and August 2014. "In the 51 day operation, 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, a third of them children," the report said, adding that six civilians were also killed in Israel.
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